Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) released a statement changing her opinion on the sexual harassment allegations against Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) after a public outcry against her comments on a Sunday news show.
What is she saying now?
“This afternoon, I spoke with Melanie Sloan who worked for Congressman Conyers on the Judiciary Committee in the mid-1990s,” she said in the statement. “Ms. Sloan told me that she had publicly discussed distressing experiences while on his staff. I find the behavior Ms. Sloan described unacceptable and disappointing. I believe what Ms. Sloan has told me.”
“Ms. Sloan, as a respected ethics expert and attorney, also gave me valuable feedback into the substantive reforms many of us in Congress are advocating to foster a climate of respect and dignity, and to protect legislative branch employees,” she added.
“I have not had the opportunity to speak with the other women, one of whom cannot speak publicly because of the secretive settlement process in place,” she concluded. “That ridiculous system must be ended and victims who want to come forward to the Ethics Committee must be able to do so.”
What had she said before?
“You said there’s now zero tolerance,” said Chuck Todd. “John Conyers. What does that mean for him? Right now — in or out?”
“We are strengthened by due process. Just because someone is accused,” she said, “was it one accusation, is it two? John Conyers is an icon in our country. He has done a great deal to protect women.”
What was the reaction to her comments?
The statement of support was immediately panned by many as “tone deaf.” Very soon after, Conyers announced that he would be stepping down from his ranking position on the powerful House Judiciary Committee while the allegations were being investigated.